Research Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 3, P313-324, March 1987

Electrophysiological and behavioral correlates of psychomotor responsivity in depression

  • Verner J. Knott
    Address reprint requests to Dr. Verner Knott, Specialty Clinics, Adult Outpatient Department, Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa Canada, K1Z 7K4.
    From the Specialty Clinics, Royal Ottawa Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Yvon D. Lapierre
    From the Specialty Clinics, Royal Ottawa Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
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      Psychomotor retardation is a frequently observed clinical feature of depressive states. This study attempted to assess the relationship between response slowness and central nervous system (CNS) activity by examining cortical evoked potentials (EPs) during psychomotor task performance. Patients consisted of 21 women who met Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) and exhibited a minimum Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score of 18 at the end of a drug washout period, the scheduled time of testing. The same number of normal women with no history of psychiatric illness were employed as controls. Cortical EPs from Cz and integrated electromyogram (EMG) from the dominant forearm extensor were recorded and time-locked to warning and imperative stimuli of a standard, two-choice, fixed foreperiod reaction time (RT) task, which yielded behavioral measures of decision time (DT) and movement time (MT). Analysis focused on behavioral RTs, latency and amplitudes of EMG, sensory and slow cortical (CNV) EPs, and measures of input time (IPT), central processing time (CPT), and motor execution time (MET), derived from combinations of EP and EMG peak latencies. Patients exhibited slower DT and MT response times, delayed EMG latencies, and attenuated EP amplitudes. The derived CPT measure was also significantly longer in patients. These findings support the view that a central dysfunction is implicated in psychomotor retardation, and the results are discussed in relation to information processing theory.
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